Friday, July 27, 2007

The Number 23 (2007)

I didn’t see The Number 23 in theaters, though I wanted to under the pretense that it was an intelligent thriller. And starred a very “smmmmmokin’!” Jim Carrey. Still, I never had the chance to check it out…until now.

Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) leads a pretty charmed life. He’s got a loving wife (Virginia Madsen), a close relationship with his teenage son (Logan Lerman) and a job he enjoys, even if it is animal control. For his birthday, his wife buys him a book entitled The Number 23, a novel of obsession authored by a mysterious author . He is soon lost within the story of Detective Fingerling (Jim Carrey) and his dark, noir-ish world populated by femme fatales, murder, paranoia, and, of course the number 23. Sparrow quickly notices startling parallels and too-close similarities between Fingerling’s life and his own, leading him to become obsessed with the number 23. Mysteries, secrets and hidden pasts come to light as Sparrow delves deeper and deeper into the book and into the cryptic 23. Are his and Fingerling’s fates intertwined or is everything just mere coincidence?

I remember when this movie looked oh-so promising and I though, “Oh, lookie! It’s an actual smart, suspenseful Hollywood movie based around numerology! And a hot Jim Carrey!” Looking back, one out of those three assumptions was correct. I’ll let you guess which one…

Now, The Number 23 wasn’t a terrible movie, just a terribly boring one! It started out promisingly enough, especially as Walter is introduced to the character of Fingerling. The audience is shown Fingerling’s gritty and dark world, and I really thought this is where the film shined. The visuals in Fingerling’s world are just breathtaking to look at, including his fairy tale-like childhood and the crime-streaked streets that he haunts as a detective. As things took a turn down Paranoia Lane, though, the film devolved into a confused mumbo-jumbo of a movie.

First of all, the film’s mysterious number 23 is never fully explained. Instead the real focus of the movie is Walter’s reading of the book and a mystery from the past that ties into everything. His whole family gets involved Scooby-Doo style to try and solve the big mystery and the movie starts to drag at the 45 minute mark. It relies heavily on mere coincidence and happenstance to keep things going (or “fate” and “destiny” as the characters like to call these convenient occurrences). The ending is anticlimactic, trite and expected.

Again, though, even through all my poo-poo’ing The Number 23 wasn’t all bad. I wholeheartedly enjoyed seeing Jim Carrey in two serious roles – one as family man Sparrow and one as the gritty ‘n’ greasy Detective Fingerling. Sparrow’s son, played by Logan Lerman (whom you might recognize as playing Ashton Kutcher’s younger counterpart in The Butterfly Effect) was great to watch as well. It’s always refreshing to see a teenage character that doesn’t sit around and sulk all the time. My only complaint with the acting was the chemistry between Jim Carrey’s characters and Virginia Madsen’s (she played both Sparrow’s wife and Fingerlings femme fatale), which just wasn’t there.

Despite my misgivings about the pacing, the convoluted storyline and my mistaken assumption that this would be a “smart” thriller, The Number 23 did manage to entertain…at least in small doses. Again, the Fingerling storyline and its execution were very enjoyable to me, as was some of the Scooby-Doo detective work the Sparrow family dove into. There were some suspenseful moments, but overall I just wished it were a lot more intelligent and much more cohesive.

Perhaps next time I’ll be more cautious when an edgy, tattooed Jim Carrey lures me to see an otherwise bland suspense-thriller…

Available from Amazon!

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